Understanding Civilizations: Islam and the West

What is Islam? What is the ‘West’? Is Islam inherently resistant to secularisation as some scholars and Islamic activists believe? Why is one defined in terms of religion and the other a geographical designation?  The aim of this course is to focus on the historical, political and religious relationships between ‘Islam’ and the ‘West’.  Islam has for centuries been Europe’s neighbor and cultural contestant with a history of conflict and co-existence.  Since September 11 there has been increasing talk of a ‘clash of civilizations’, but globalization has also has created an interdependency of faiths which requires greater co-operation, understanding, and dialogue.

Students in this course will be exposed to the recurrent theme of whether it is possible to separate the world into monolithic entities called ‘Islam’ and the ‘West’.  Students will also gain insight into the profound urgency to develop mutual understanding between the West and the Islamic World which is highlighted by a myriad of violent events over the last decades. On the assumption that ignorance is the enemy of peace, this course intends to explore the sources of conflict that have led towards the notion of “a clash of civilizations.”



  • Jameel Gallery of Islamic Art, Victoria and Albert Museum
  • Suleymaniye Mosque and UK Turkish Islamic Cultural Centre, Shoreditch
  • Rumi's Cave, Kilburn Park



Students registered on this course will have priority access to book a place on the tour.

"Britain’s Cultural Thali: Exploring the Sights, Sounds, and Tastes of South Asian Leicester"

Leicester in the East Midlands is one of Britain’s most vibrant and multicultural cities. An estimated 40 per cent of the population were born or descend from countries overseas, particularly from South Asia, East Africa and the Caribbean. On this Study Tour, created by local residents in partnership with FIE, you can discover how people have travelled the world to live in Leicester. Visit the ‘Golden Mile’, New Walk Museum and spectacular religious buildings. Hear about East African twice migrants, three generations of British Muslims, Indian religious festivals and taste delicious South Asian food. Leicester’s motto is ‘Semper Eadem’ or ‘Always the Same’. Yet the city is constantly changing. From the Norman conquerors who built the Cathedral to Victorian exiles from Europe to today’s migrants, Leicester has welcomed people, religions and cultures from worldwide. Learn more on our London Study Tours page. 





Understanding Civilizations: Islam and the West